After being the NFL’s most dominant team for the early parts of 1970s, the Miami Dolphins had taken a step back during the middle and later part of the decade.
From 1971-74, the Dolphins won the AFC East every year, reached the Super Bowl three times and won it twice. In 1975 and 1976, Miami failed to make the playoffs before settling for a wild card spot in the next two seasons. On this day 40 years, Miami would clinch its first division crown in five years with a 28-10 win over the lowly Detroit Lions.
The Dolphins were coming off a big 39-24 win over the New England Patriots as they arrived at the Pontiac Silverdome on Dec. 9, 1979. Miami held a 1-game lead over the Patriots and needed only to win to clinch the division.
Miami wasted no time seizing control of the contest as quarterback Bob Griese fired first-quarter touchdown passes of 25 and 29 yards to Nat Moore and Jimmy Cefalo, respectively. Detroit cut the lead to 11 at halftime, but the Dolphins’ defense continued to dominate in the second half.
The Lions netted just 182 yards of offense on the day as Miami tallied six sacks and forced three turnovers. Neal Colzie and Tim Foley each came up with interceptions in the victory.
Miami extended the lead to 21-3 in the third quarter on a 3-yard touchdown run by Larry Csonka. Gary Davis added a 3-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. The Lions finally found the end zone late in the contest on a 29-yard touchdown pass from Scott Hunter to Gene Washington.
Griese finished the day with 229 yards passing, the two scores and an interception. Moore led all receivers with 78 yards receiving on four catches. Freddie Scott caught four passes for 65 yards to lead the Lions.
The Dolphins would lose at home to the New York Jets the following week and then to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Division round. That would be Miami’s final playoff game with Griese under center. The division title that allowed Miami to play in that game was clinched on this day four decades ago.
Mike Ferguson is a contributor for The Grueling Truth, covering Florida sports and sports history. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. To keep up with all of his work, like his Facebook page.
Players must be 21 years of age or older or reach the minimum age for gambling in their respective state and located in jurisdictions where online gambling is legal. Please play responsibly. Bet with your head, not over it. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, and wants help, call or visit: (a) the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey at 1-800-Gambler or www.800gambler.org; or (b) Gamblers Anonymous at 855-2-CALL-GA or www.gamblersanonymous.org.
Trading financial products carries a high risk to your capital, especially trading leverage products such as CFDs. CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. Between 74-89% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
This site is using Cloudflare and adheres to the Google Safe Browsing Program. We adapted Google's Privacy Guidelines to keep your data safe at all times.